Around the NFC West: Player safety on tee

June, 11, 2012
6/11/12
8:00
AM ET
Good morning. Welcome back from the weekend.

We had some fun with an Arizona Cardinals back-and-forth Saturday, but for the most part, the NFC West rested. We can thank/blame the collective bargaining agreement for that. Players won weekends off through most of the offseason before training camps.

NFC West teams are on the field Tuesday through Thursday before breaking until late July.

The CBA forbids live contact at these minicamps, but we should not expect St. Louis Rams legend Marshall Faulk to begin pulling his punches anytime soon. The Hall of Famer has long come across as an independent thinker with little use for political correctness (Rams fans might recall the Hall of Fame back ripping the team following its 2008 opener).

Faulk, speaking more recently, offered pointed commentary on the push for improved player safety via an evolving rulebook.

Brian Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has the details after speaking with Faulk late last week. Faulk: "It's pretty simple for me. Player safety is 'Go play golf. Go play basketball where they call fouls for slapping you on the hand.' ... But it's football. I hope guys get to play longer and there aren't as many injuries as there were in the past. But I'm sorry, it is a contact sport. And I will feel cheated to a certain extent (if too many changes are made) because I want to watch the contact sport that I grew up loving and watching, but I know that's no longer possible."

Matthew Hathaway of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has new details regarding proposals and communications between the Rams and the St. Louis stadium authority. The stadium authority, in rejecting the Rams' latest proposal, wrote this in a letter to the team: "The Rams proposal guts and demolishes most of the current facility, eliminates significant improvements made with public money, and proposes virtually a new facility."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says Frank Gore ranked seventh among NFL running backs in percentage of his team's offensive snaps last season, not far behind the Rams' Steven Jackson. Maiocco: "While Gore took 57 percent of the team's handoffs, he played nearly 67 percent of the 49ers' total offensive snaps. Interestingly, the 49ers did not use Gore much as a receiver during the regular season. He caught just 17 passes in the regular season (his career-low was 15 as a rookie). But he emerged again as a pass target in the playoffs when he led the team with 13 catches." Noted: Gore finished the regular season with seven dropped passes, tied with San Diego's Mike Tolbert for most among NFL running backs, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Also from Maiocco: Justin Smith ranked third among NFL defensive linemen in percentage of defensive snaps played last season. The team hopes to develop depth on its line.

Mike Rosenberg of the San Jose Mercury News has pricing details for tickets at the 49ers' future stadium. Rosenberg: "For a family of four, seats in the nosebleeds will cost $8,000 in one-time fees, which can be paid back over a decade, plus $3,400 each year for tickets to all eight regular season games and the two preseason exhibitions. A foursome of nosebleed seats at Candlestick costs $1,160 to $1,560 for next season."

P. Solomon Banda of the Associated Press says 49ers cornerback Perrish Cox, acquitted on sexual assault charges, faces a civil suit from his accuser.

Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle says 49ers tackle Joe Staley offers free boarding for practice-squad types looking to save money in a pricey housing market.

Also from Branch: How the 49ers kept together just about all of their coaching staff from last season.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the team is confident in its ability to avoid the penalties levied against Seattle for holding an organized team activity featuring too much contact. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "I think our guys have a good understanding of the tempo. They go hard but they know when to pull off. You get competitive situations, like line stunts, when you are trying to get timing, but they know they have to pull off and no one has gotten in a position where it has gone over the top. They understand how to practice. It’s not pads, so you can’t really turn it loose like in training camp."

Greg Mellen of the Long Beach Press-Telegram looks at legal issues relating to Brian Banks' wrongful imprisonment. Mellen: "It's more comforting to 'concentrate on football' than more troubling questions. It's easy to forget that for most of the past decade Banks was a young man whom society and the judicial system failed at virtually every turn. Or that his case serves as a primer on the dangers of plea-bargained cases, particularly for the innocent, many say." This is the first in a two-part series as Banks, 26, heads toward his extended tryout with the Seahawks during their upcoming minicamp.

Liz Mathews of 710ESPN Seattle says Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin sees little, if any separation between Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson in the team's quarterback race. Mathews' tweet stems from comments Baldwin made Saturday to ESPN's John Clayton. Baldwin's comments begin at about the 22-minute mark of this audio file, with his quarterback comments beginning around the 34:40 mark. Noted: Jackson earned teammates' respect last season. Baldwin credited Jackson with mentoring him. Flynn hasn't had much of an opportunity to do those things yet. But in listening to Baldwin's comments, it was clear he wasn't making any kind of judgment.

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